Bucket List, Destination, Ecuador

Galapagos Islands Itinerary

Penguins in the Galapagos

The Galapagos Islands, a UNESCO World Heritage site and one of the world’s most extraordinary destinations, offer a glimpse into a world untouched by time. Home to a diverse array of wildlife and stunning landscapes, this archipelago in the Pacific Ocean has captivated the hearts of adventurers and nature enthusiasts for centuries. Embarking on an expedition with Lindblad Expeditions ensures not only a journey of discovery but also a deeper understanding of the unique ecosystems that thrive in these remote islands. Check out our Galapagos Islands itinerary, where every moment unfolds like a verse in nature’s symphony.

Galapagos Islands Itinerary

Day One: North Seymour and Rabida Islands

Galapagos Islands flamingos The morning haze lifted in slow wisps as our expedition vessel anchored off the coast of North Seymour Island. This day, like every other in the Galápagos, promised adventure. As the sun edged above the horizon, casting a warm golden hue over the volcanic landscape, our group prepared for our first excursion of the day. Lindblad Expeditions had brought us to this remote paradise, and with each passing moment, we felt more immersed in its mystique.

The Zodiacs glided toward the shore. We made a dry landing on the island’s rugged coast, our shoes crunching softly on the volcanic sands. The air was thick with anticipation, mingled with the salty tang of the sea. Led by our knowledgeable naturalist guides, we set out on a loop hike across North Seymour’s rocky terrain.

The path wound its way over ancient boulders, weathered by time and the elements. Each step revealed a new wonder of the natural world. Blue-footed boobies danced overhead, their vibrant feet contrasting against the stark landscape. Frigatebirds soared on the breeze, their wings outstretched like dark sails against the cerulean sky.

As we trekked along the rugged coastline, the island revealed its secrets. Hidden coves nestled between towering cliffs, teeming with life both above and below the waterline. It was a scene straight from the pages of a Darwinian dream, a living testament to the wonders of evolution.

After hours of exploration, we returned to the shoreline, invigorated by our encounter with nature. But the day was far from over. Our next destination beckoned—a pristine beach on Rabida Island, where azure waters lapped against the shore like a siren’s call.

With a splash, we plunged into the cool embrace of the sea, eager to explore the vibrant underwater world. Sea lions frolicked in the shallows, their sleek forms weaving through the crystal-clear waters. And lurking beneath the surface, marine iguanas prowled the rocky seabed, blending seamlessly into their volcanic habitat.

As the afternoon waned, we reluctantly emerged from the water, our senses alive with the wonders we had witnessed. But there was one final stop to be made before the day’s end—a secluded lagoon and beach walk on Rabida Island, home to a myriad of avian inhabitants.

With a gentle thud, the Zodiacs beached on the sandy shore, and we disembarked onto the sun-drenched sands. Flamingos waded gracefully through the shallows, their elegant forms mirrored in the tranquil waters. Sea lions basked lazily on the beach, their whiskered faces turned toward the setting sun. And overhead, a symphony of birdsong filled the air, a testament to the rich biodiversity of this enchanted realm.

As the day drew to a close, we gathered on the beach, our hearts full with the memories of our island odyssey. Lindblad Expeditions had granted us access to a world few have the privilege to explore, and for that, we were forever grateful.

Day Two: Fernandina and Isabela Islands

Iguanas in the GalapagosDay two of our voyage led us to Fernandina and Isabela Islands, where the very essence of Galápagos’ primal allure was distilled into landscapes of stark beauty and untamed life.

At Punta Espinoza, our first foray ashore, the volcanic terrain welcomed us with its austere grandeur. Dry landings were deceptive affairs, requiring a careful negotiation of slippery rocks on a canvas of irregular lava flows. Here, time seemed to stretch and bend, as if the island itself was reluctant to reveal its secrets in haste.

Amidst the desolate beauty, life thrived in abundance. Hundreds of iguanas, seemingly carved from the very stone they inhabited, sprawled lazily under the equatorial sun. Birds darted overhead in a ballet of wings and wind, while sea lions lounged in regal repose, unperturbed by our presence. Yet, it was the whale bones strewn upon the shore, silent sentinels of a bygone era, that spoke volumes of the archipelago’s tumultuous past.

But it was beneath the waves that Fernandina truly came alive. A deep-water snorkel from the comfort of our zodiacs revealed a vibrant underwater world teeming with life. Sea lions danced effortlessly in the depths, their sleek forms weaving through shafts of sunlight that pierced the water’s surface. Sharks, ancient predators of the deep, glided past with an almost preternatural grace, while elusive penguins darted like shadows in the watery realm.

Back on board, our senses still reeling from the underwater spectacle, we had the privilege of joining Lindblad-National Geographic Certified Photo Instructor, Anahi Concari, for a captivating presentation on capturing the essence of Galápagos with nothing more than a smartphone. Through her lens, we glimpsed the intimate details of this unique ecosystem, where every creature, no matter how small, played a vital role in the delicate balance of life.

As the day drew to a close, we embarked on a leisurely zodiac ride along the rugged coast of Punta Vicente Roca, Isabela Island. Here, the elemental forces that shaped the Galápagos were laid bare, as towering cliffs rose defiantly from the churning sea. Yet, amidst this raw beauty, life flourished in abundance. Sharks patrolled the depths with silent vigilance, while sea lions frolicked in the surf, their playful antics a testament to the irrepressible spirit of these remote islands. Above us, birds wheeled and soared on the ocean breeze, their cries mingling with the roar of the waves crashing against the shore.

As the day came to an end, we gathered once more to celebrate the crossing of the Equator with a wine-tasting event hosted by the hotel department. Amidst laughter and camaraderie, we raised our glasses to the timeless magic of the Galápagos, where the forces of nature reign supreme, and the spirit of adventure knows no bounds.

Day Three: Urbina Bay and Tagus Cove

Sea Lions in the Galapagos The Galapagos greeted us with a mix of anticipation and awe as we embarked on yet another day of exploration with Lindblad Expeditions. Our morning commenced with the gentle hum of zodiac engines as we embarked on a coastal journey along the rugged shores of Urbina Bay.

Perched on the edge of our inflatable vessels, we traced the contours of this untouched wilderness, marveling at the sheer magnitude of nature’s canvas. Every crevice, every crag, seemed to whisper tales of centuries past, echoing the footsteps of giants and the whispers of pioneers who once navigated these unforgiving waters.

But our adventure was just beginning as we slipped beneath the surface for a bout of deep-water snorkeling. In the liquid embrace of the ocean, we were welcomed into a world teeming with life—vibrant corals danced in the currents, while colorful fish darted like rainbows amidst the shadows. Here, amidst the ebb and flow of the tide, we felt a profound connection to the pulse of the ocean, a rhythm that echoed through the very heart of the archipelago.

Back on board, our journey continued with a captivating presentation by naturalist Karina Lopez, whose passion for the Galapagos was infectious. Through her words, we delved into the rich tapestry of human history that intertwined with the islands—a saga of discovery, exploration, and conservation that shaped the very essence of this extraordinary sanctuary.

With newfound knowledge fueling our curiosity, we set out once more, this time on kayaks that glided effortlessly along the shoreline. Here, amidst the gentle rhythm of our journey, we felt a profound sense of intimacy with the land, as if every rock and every wave had a story to tell.

Our final destination awaited us at Tagus Cove, where a dry landing beckoned us to explore the rugged terrain that lay beyond. With sturdy boots laced tight, we embarked on a challenging ascent to the summit of Darwin Lake—a landscape littered with volcanic cones and ancient craters. With each step, we felt the exhilaration of the climb, the thrill of adventure pulsing through our veins as we conquered the rugged terrain.

At the summit, we were greeted with a panoramic vista that stretched to the horizon—a tapestry of earth and sky that seemed to stretch into infinity. Here, amidst the whispers of the wind and the rugged beauty of the landscape, we stood as witnesses to the timeless allure of the Galapagos—an oasis of wonder that captured the imagination and stirred the soul.

As the sun dipped below the horizon, we knew that our journey was far from over. For in the heart of the Galapagos, every moment was a revelation, every encounter a gift to be cherished—a testament to the enduring magic of this enchanted archipelago.

Day Four: Espumilla Beach, Buccaneer’s Cove and Puerto Egas (Santiago Island)

Kayaking in the GalapagosThe relentless sun bore down on us as we disembarked from the ship onto the shores of Espumilla Beach, a narrow strip of golden sand flanked by volcanic formations. Our guides from Lindblad Expeditions, with their hats pulled low to shield their eyes, led the way as we set out for our pre-breakfast stroll. The sand, fine and powdery beneath our feet, seemed to stretch on indefinitely, mirroring the vastness of the ocean beside us.

Espumilla Beach was not a place to be hurried; it was a sanctuary of tranquility, where the only sounds were the gentle lapping of waves against the shore and the occasional call of seabirds overhead. The pre-breakfast walk, a leisurely one-mile saunter, allowed us to soak in the serenity of this untouched landscape.

As we returned to the ship, the day unfolded with a buffet of options for exploration. Kayaking, paddleboarding, and a glass-bottom boat tour beckoned, each promising a unique perspective of the marine wonderland beneath us. I opted for the glass-bottomed boat, eager to peer into the depths below without getting my feet wet.

Gliding over the crystalline waters, our vessel revealed a kaleidoscope of marine life: schools of colorful fish darting amongst coral reefs, graceful sea turtles gliding effortlessly, and the occasional glimpse of a shy octopus camouflaged amongst the rocks. It was a mesmerizing display of nature’s brilliance, a glimpse into a world seldom seen by those confined to dry land.

The morning’s aquatic adventures gave way to deeper exploration as we geared up for snorkeling in the pristine waters of Urbina Bay. With masks secured and fins in hand, we plunged into the cool embrace of the ocean, eager to discover the treasures hidden beneath its surface.

Returning to the ship, salt-kissed and exhilarated, we gathered in the lounge for a presentation by our naturalist guide, Gilda Gonzalez, on the life and legacy of Charles Darwin. With passion and reverence, she recounted Darwin’s groundbreaking journey to the Galapagos Islands aboard the HMS Beagle, and the profound impact his observations had on our understanding of the natural world.

As the sun began its descent towards the horizon, we found ourselves once again on the shores of a pristine beach, this time at Tagus Cove. With a wet landing, we stepped onto the powdery sand, eager to explore this remote outpost of wilderness.

Some of us chose to swim and snorkel in the crystal-clear waters, while others opted for a leisurely stroll along the shoreline, soaking in the breathtaking scenery that surrounded us. As I gazed out at the rugged cliffs and towering cacti, I couldn’t help but feel a sense of reverence for this untamed paradise.

As darkness fell and the stars emerged overhead, we reluctantly bid farewell to Tagus Cove, our hearts full and our spirits rejuvenated by a day spent in communion with nature. And as the ship sailed into the night, I knew that the memories of this extraordinary day would linger long after our voyage had come to an end.

Day Five: Puerto Ayora and Highlands of Santa Cruz Island

Galapagos tortoises In the quietude of early morning, we embarked on a journey that traversed realms of both science and serenity, a pilgrimage through the heart of Galapagos’ evolutionary tapestry. Our vessel anchored off the coast of Santa Cruz Island. We were bound for Puerto Ayora, a bustling nexus where human enterprise intersects with nature’s ceaseless spectacle.

The docking at Puerto Ayora’s main pier ushered us into the pulse of Galapagos life. Our passage through the town was brief, yet it provided a glimpse into the symbiotic dance between the island’s inhabitants and its untamed wilderness.

Boarding awaiting buses, we embarked on a pilgrimage to the bastion of conservation: the Galapagos National Park. Here, amidst the verdant embrace of endemic flora, lay the Charles Darwin Research Station. It stood as a bastion of knowledge, a bastion of hope, where scientists toiled in the crucible of discovery to safeguard the archipelago’s fragile ecosystem.

Our footsteps echoed through the corridors of conservation as we ventured forth to witness one of the island’s most remarkable endeavors: the Fausto Llerena giant tortoise captive breeding center. Here, within the sanctum of scientific stewardship, we beheld the embodiment of resilience—the iconic Galapagos giant tortoise. Each lumbering titan bore witness to centuries of adaptation, a testament to the evolutionary crucible that forged these islands into a crucible of life.

From the hallowed halls of conservation, our journey carried us aloft, ascending into the highlands of Santa Cruz. Here, amidst the emerald cloak of mist-shrouded peaks, lay a bastion of pastoral charm: a sugar cane mill, its weathered timbers whispering tales of bygone eras.

Our pilgrimage culminated at the threshold of Manzanillo Ranch, a rustic enclave nestled amidst the rolling hills. Here, amidst the rustic charm of weathered wood and sun-dappled verandas, we savored the culinary delights of Galapagos cuisine. Nourished in body and spirit, we embarked on a quest amidst the verdant expanse, in search of ancient titans—the Galapagos giant tortoises.

Donning rubber boots, we ventured forth into the heart of their realm. Amidst the verdant tapestry of foliage, we beheld them in all their majesty—magnificent creatures, guardians of time immemorial. With camera in hand, we captured moments frozen in time, each snapshot a testament to the enduring legacy of Galapagos’ untamed wilderness.

As we retraced our steps to the awaiting vessel, our hearts brimmed with gratitude—for in the embrace of Galapagos, we found not only a sanctuary for the soul, but a beacon of hope for generations yet to come.

Day Six: Santa Fe Island and Cerro Brujo

Hanging out with sea lions in the GalapagosThe last full day in the Galapagos Islands arrived with the soft whispers of sea breeze, promising adventure and farewell in equal measure. We were bound for Santa Fe Island and Cerro Brujo, two jewels in this archipelago’s crown, where the dance of nature unfolds in every ripple of the sea and every gust of wind.

As dawn painted the sky in hues of pink and gold, our vessel gently anchored off the coast of Santa Fe Island. With a wet landing, our feet met the warm embrace of sand, and we found ourselves amidst a gathering of sea lions. They sprawled lazily on the shore, indifferent to our arrival, as if we were mere guests in their eternal domain. We observed them with the fascination of children, marveling at their grace and nonchalance in equal measure.

After a leisurely stroll along the beach, we embarked on glass-bottomed boat tours, peering into the crystal-clear depths below. Schools of fish danced around, while sea lions played along the shores.

But it was when we donned our snorkeling gear that the true magic of the Galapagos unfolded before our eyes. Plunging into the ocean, we were welcomed into a realm of wonder. We swam alongside sea lions and darting fish. And in the distance, a shadow passed – a solitary shark, a silent sentinel of the deep.

After a morning of aquatic exploration, we made our way to Cerro Brujo, a pristine stretch of white sand on San Cristobal Island. With a wet landing, we stepped ashore, greeted by the gentle lapping of waves and the soft beneath our feet. Here, amidst the untouched beauty of nature, we had the chance to spot some of the Galapagos’ most elusive inhabitants – the Chatham mockingbird and the Chatham lava lizard, endemic species found nowhere else on earth.

As the sun dipped low on the horizon, painting the sky in shades of crimson and gold, we bid farewell to the Galapagos in style. The Captain’s Farewell Cocktail Party and Dinner was a fitting end to our journey – a celebration of the wonders we had witnessed, the memories we had made. We toasted to the islands and to each other, grateful for this brief but unforgettable encounter with paradise.

And as the stars emerged one by one in the velvet sky, we knew that though our Galapagos Islands itinerary had come to an end, its spirit would remain with us forever – a beacon of beauty, of wonder, of endless possibility.

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